Finance Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitaraman has just presented Budget 2021. The budget was divided into six pillars, the first being ‘Health and Wellbeing’ illustrating that healthcare is the first focus of the budget. Under this pillar, a total budget of Rs.2.23 lakh crore is allocated for 2021-22.
FM announced that Rs.35,000 crore had been allocated towards COVID-19 vaccine, which is of utmost importance in the present scenario and that more funds will be allocated, if need be, in the future.
Speaking of the COVID-19 vaccines, Mrs Sitaraman stated that India has already approved the use of two vaccines in January 2021—Oxford’s Covishield manufactured by SII and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. These vaccines are already in use for restricted groups of people, i.e. 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers. There will be two more vaccines lining up along with them soon.
Further, a new centrally sponsored scheme, PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, was announced at the cost of Rs.64,180 crore. Over a span of six years, the scheme aims to strengthen the primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare systems’ capacities. It also builds new institutions and boosts the existing institutions to be able to detect and cure any new and emerging diseases in addition to the National Health Mission.
Under the PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, the following proposals were made:
- Support for 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban health and wellness centres.
- Setting up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3,382 block public health units across 11 states.
- Critical care hospital blocks and 12 central institutions will be installed in 602 districts.
- Support will be provided to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches, and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units.
- Provisions will be made to expand the Integrated Health Information Portal to connect public health labs across all states and union territories.
- Proposal to build 17 new public health units and strengthen 33 existing public health units at the Points of Entry of 32 airports, 11 seaports, and 7 land crossings.
- Plans to set up 15 Health Emergency Operation Centres and 2 mobile hospitals.
- Installation of a national institution for One Health, a regional research platform for WHO South-East Asia Region, 4 regional National Institutes for Virology, and 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories.
When it comes to the Nutrition section, FM proposed the launch of Mission Poshan 2.0 where the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyan are merged. The new scheme aims to strengthen the nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome of the individual programmes. An intense strategy will be adopted to improve the nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts.
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